Verden baseball heads into a big week for Grady County teams with their tails up after a comeback win in the Panther Classic championship game.
The Tigers took the title Saturday in Amber with a 7-4 victory over Class B No. 1 Lookeba-Sickles. It completed a solid run of three days for Verden just a week out from when they return to the same place for the Grady County Tournament.
"We're finally starting to play the way we're capable of playing," coach Allen Conley said. "We've not been doing that as of late. Our pitching's down a little bit, there's some soreness going on, but we were able to pull it out."
Verden first took the lead with three runs in the bottom of the third, canceling out runs from Lookeba-Sickles' Dylan Brooks. Brooks had been the bane of defenses' existence for most of the tournament. His leadoff single in the third was his seventh-straight hit in as many at bats.
That was ended with a strikeout in the top of the fifth by senior Alex Whitlow. It was one of three for him on the afternoon, along with four walks, two hits and three runs against in five innings. Whitlow stepped onto the mound after Tryston Morgan started but had to exit due to soreness.
"He hasn't pitched a whole lot, but with us being shorthanded, this was his chance to show us what he can do," Conley said about Whitlow. "We know he can do it. He stepped up in a big way, and that's what seniors need to do on a big night."
Aside from his work on the mound, it was Whitlow who helped Verden to their lead. Dusty Keil and Christ Patterson were walked, while leadoff Morgan was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Whitlow's double sent them all across the plate to instantly turn the game around. He went 2-for-4 at the plate with one run that came when Verden took the lead for a second time.